The imposing Georgian building was built in 1780 and narrowly avoided demolition in the 1970s when local government ownership changed and plans were drawn up for a totally different glass fronted council building. After a huge local outcry the building was saved and is now owned by Villiers Hotel.
While a Town Hall the building was the focal point of major announcements. The Mayor or Town Clerk would stand outside to announce the coronation of monarchs, election results and to award medals to local war heroes.
At the same time, other businesses often had use of the Town Hall. The first Buckingham Cinema was set up in the large room upstairs. At the time, fires at cinemas were frequent, so, the town surveyor’s room was turned into an asbestos-lined projection room in 1930. The town became the third in Britain outside London to show “talking pictures“.
The Golden Swan sits at the top of the Old Town Hall and acts as a weather vane. Another theory of the origin of the Buckingham swan is linked to the de Bohun family. Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest son of Edward III, married Eleander de Bohun. Her family had claimed descent from the mythical French Knight of the Swan which was a widely known legend from the European Middle Ages. The story follows a mysterious knight who arrives in a boat drawn by swans to rescue a damsel in distress. The children born from the de Bohun family wore silver chains around their necks with swan pendants and the family crest was a swan with a coronet encircling its neck. In 1377 Thomas was made the first Duke of Buckingham and the swan became his emblem.
The real history of the swan emblem of Buckinghamshire remains disputed to this day.
Photograph of King George V and Queen Mary passing the Town Hall in a vehicle during a 1913 visit to Buckingham, with thanks to Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies.